Laser for easy alignment

We want to connect a laser to the PDP and RoboRIO for easy alignment in relation to the goal. Any suggestions?

Why use a laser, as opposed to LEDs that reflect off of the vision tape?

Hmm what LED light would you recommend?

They are thinking (I think) of manually aligning and using the laser as a reference, not using a computer vision system

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If you want a laser that’s legal this is expensive, but works out to ~1-10m when used with retroreflective tape this banner sensor works well, but isn’t very visible by eye: QS18VN6LD

For vision targeting, are you talking about manual alignment: Andymark flashlight
There are a bunch of solutions that are a little harder to integrate on amazon as well

Yes we are

There’s a number of possible issues with a laser. The first and foremost is safety followed closely by legality; the short version of that is Class 1 ONLY per the robot rules and don’t aim at eyes. (Hint: the tape is high enough that eyes are a serious concern.) I don’t recall the rule number offhand but it’s one of the very first R rules.

You’re better off with a flashlight, ideally with a colored lens or bulb for contrast. But, there’s more rules there too, same rule as above.


Second the flashlight over the laser. Only downside is occasionally messing with your alliance members vision.

I’ve never done one myself, but I believe 461 did it in 2016. @Peyton_Yeung

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We did indeed use a flashlight in 2016 for aiming and it was the main contributor to our high goal accuracy that season.


I’ve done the same thing in 2013 as noted in this post.

Nowadays, the Andymark Targeting light is probably a simpler solution. We have one on our 2020 robot with a colored film to distinguish our light from potential alliance partners.


We also used an inexpensive focusable flashlight in the 2017 game and found it dramatically decreased the cycle time. With the focusable flashlight, our driver was able to start lining up with the pegs for the gears from over 15 feet out and was able to hit the target on the first try almost every time. He also found it allowed him to line up with the loading station as he drove in and he didn’t have to mess around to get lined up once he touched the wall. Our human player was the only one I saw who wasn’t giving hand signals to direct the driver.

We used a SPIKE relay to turn the flashlight on and off and an inexpensive buck regulator board to drop the voltage down to simulate the batteries it normally used. We never got hassled about blinding anyone because it projected the beam parallel to the floor at about 18 inches above the floor.

@wellesleyfrc I think you can use one or more flashlights arranged similar to what we did to do your aiming and ranging without getting anyone upset about you blinding them.

Edited to add: with the flashlight focussed as tightly as possible, we got a square patch of light about 6 to 8 inches across at 10 feet. It was clearly visible on the loading station wall on the far side of the field and on the Airship structure with the gymnasium lights on and without aiming at any retroreflective tape.

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what type of flashlight did you use?

I don’t recall the exact model. I bought several and tested and compared them. Some would not focus as tightly as others. Some had inferior optics so the beam was fuzzy around the edges. Harbor Freight sells one but it probably had the worst (fuzzy) optics.

Your driver will have to adapt his driving style to exploit the aiming light by swinging out then roughly lining up with the target from as far out as possible, say 20 t0 25 feet. He then drives to put the light on the target and keep it there. As he gets closer the patch of light gets smaller, making him line up more.

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